June 6, 2014
Box Score |
'Dores Not Getting Ahead of Themselves | Vanderbilt Presser | Stanford Presser
By David Dawson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The road to Omaha became considerably shorter for the Vanderbilt baseball team on Friday afternoon.
The Commodores, in fact, are now halfway there.
Using an early outburst by the offense and some solid middle relief work by Tyler Ferguson, the Commodores rolled to an 11-6 victory over Stanford in the opening game of the Super Regionals at Hawkins Field. The best-of-three series continues on Saturday at 2 p.m., with the "if-necessary" game scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. The winner of the series advances to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series.
"It's a pretty cool feeling (to be one win away from Omaha)," said Vanderbilt freshman Bryan Reynolds, who went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored in Friday's victory. "We've just got to play how we play and everything will work out."
Vanderbilt, which is playing in the Super Regionals for the fourth time in the past five years, is seeking its second appearance in the CWS. The Commodores reached Omaha for the first time in 2011.
Vanderbilt (45-18) jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first three innings of Friday's game, and then fended off a Stanford comeback bid. The Cardinal (34-25) used a four-run fifth-inning rally to pull within 10-6, but Ferguson restored order after Vanderbilt starter Tyler Beede -- who was a first-round pick by the San Francisco Giants in Thursday's MLB Draft -- was lifted with two outs in the fifth.
Ferguson earned the win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, and Brian Miller recorded the final five outs, including escaping a two-on, one-out situation in the eighth. Ferguson (8-3) allowed two hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
"You know, that's a good team (Stanford) over there," said Ferguson. "Even though we were up 10-0, you knew that team was going to fight back. They did it against Indiana (in last week's regionals). It's a team you can't really back down on. You just win every inning, and we started to do that towards the end."
Xavier Turner had two hits and an RBI for the Commodores, who finished with 14 hits during the eventful contest. The three-hour, 35-minute game -- which was played in front of a sellout crowd of 3,626 -- featured a combined 15 walks and a total of 362 pitches thrown by the six pitchers (three by each team) used in the game.
"Well it was a tale of two games in some ways, but I'm proud of the kids (for) the way we attacked the baseball early," said Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin. "We took advantage of some walks and we took advantage of some free bases. We were able to capitalize early and jet out to what seemed like a big lead at the time. ... I really have to congratulate Tyler Ferguson for stopping the game where it was. There was a good amount of momentum from Stanford and you could that they were trying to get back into the game. He came in and did a tremendous job."
Last weekend, as Vanderbilt blew through the Nashville Regional with three straight wins, the Commodores' pitching staff was firmly stationed in the driver's seat and the Vanderbilt offense rode along in the shotgun position.
This time, the roles were essentially reversed: It was the Vanderbilt offense that set the tone for Friday's victory.
The Commodores, who swept a three-game home series against Stanford in March, sent 24 batters to the plate over the first three innings while jumping out to the 10-0 lead. They collected eight hits and seven walks in that three-inning stretch, and also benefited from a wild pitch and a Stanford error. By the time the third inning ended, the Cardinal had already employed three pitchers.
Meanwhile, Beede was cruising along, holding Stanford hitless through the first three innings. But the junior begin struggling with his control in the fourth, and was eventually lifted with two outs in the fifth -- one out shy of qualifying for the win.
Beede, who struck out a career-high 14 batters in last weekend's win over Xavier, was charged with six runs, all earned, on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts.
Stanford starter John Hochstatter was also burned by control issues. He walked three of the first four batters he faced in the bottom of the first, which put the wheels in motion for a four-run Commodore rally. Hochstatter issued a bases-loaded walk -- his fourth free pass of the inning -- to Rhett Wiseman to force home the game's first run, and then threw a wild pitch that enabled the second run to score. John Norwood's two-run single capped the rally, and represented the only base hit of the inning.
Hochstatter was lifted after he walked Karl Ellison leading off the bottom of the second. He was replaced Chris Viall, who was greeted by a base hit from Dansby Swanson, followed by a bunt single by Bryan Reynolds. Vince Conde then drew a bases-loaded walk and Wiel followed with a sacrifice fly. Turner drove in the final run of the inning with a fielder's choice, giving Vanderbilt a 7-0 lead.
It was more of the same in the bottom of the third, as the Commodores added three more runs and extended the lead to 10-0. Reynolds and Wiel each had run-scoring hits, and another run scored on a Stanford throwing error.
Stanford didn't go away quietly, however.
The Cardinal -- who were held without a hit for the first three innings -- reached Beede for three hits in the fourth, including a two-run, two-out triple by Wayne Taylor that trimmed VU's lead to 10-2. Stanford then put together its four-run rally in the fifth, which began when Beede allowed four of the first five batters to reach base (two walks, a hit-by-pitch and an RBI single by Zach Hoffpauir). After Brant Whiting hit a sacrifice fly, Dominic Jose delivered a two-run single that pulled Stanford within 10-6 and chased Beede from the game.
But the Vanderbilt bullpen held Stanford in check the rest of the way, with Ferguson and Miller combining for 4 1/3 scoreless innings of two-hit ball.